“Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:8-10 NASB)
I’ve heard several interpretation of why the coins were so important to the woman, and in each case it seems to detract from the point. Frankly it’s money of some sort, and I’m good leaving it at that. The point is that the woman sought the lost coin, found it, and partied with her friends and neighbors over it. The point of the story illustrates the party in heaven “before the angels of God” when one sinner repents.
Again, this parable seems odd as a story, but the point is really supposed to be at the forefront. Jesus again points out that heaven, and here, specifically God Himself, rejoices over one who repents. A couple of details different from the previous parable, besides the difference in what was lost and found, are the reference to “heaven” versus to “before the angels of God”, and the absence of “than over ninety-nine who need no repentance”. I’m not sure of the significance of these differences, they could be literary style. I would like to point out that “in the presence of the angels of God” does seem to imply (or I infer from it) that God is the One rejoicing as opposed to the angels; as if He sort of embarrasses Himself like David in dancing with joy. It paints an interesting picture if so, and would illustrate an equally interesting characteristic of God.
Again, though the element of repentance is present. The lost which is found is connected once again to a repentant sinner. So, the success of the searching is contingent upon the decision of the one sought to repent. This is sort of key here. We really love the picture of Jesus seeking us to bring us back to Himself, and He does. But also keep in mind, Jesus doesn’t violate our choice. He doesn’t take away the right He gave us to choose. So the responsibility is on us. He seeks, He calls, He “waits on the porch looking”, but we have to decide to return or agree with Him. This the point of connection I see with the previous chapter’s treatment of the cost of such a choice.
I don’t understand this passage as arguing against the high cost of discipleship. Rather I see this passage as explaining the action and attitude of God toward it. He seeks us to make that difficult commitment. He seeks us, but He doesn’t then “lower the bar” to get us in. In the next parable, the change in the younger son illustrates what Jesus means by repentance. So, when we look at the lost sheep and lost coin, those items represent those people who have changed their minds about their lives.
So God seeks the “lost” from the fellowship of His people, but then calls them to change their mind about their situation. This may be a different concept than many have toward evangelism.
What does God reveal to you through this parable?